The Roadmap to Digitalization – Episode 6: How to Integrate the AWS Cloud in Enterprise Architecture Management

Digital transformation or digitalization is widely discussed today. Digitalization offers an abundance of products based on new technologies and technological platforms that possess the capability to reshape business processes, organizational structure and ways of working. It holds the power to reshape complete business models or even overall market situations.

One main element of digitalization is cloud computing, the usage of IT resources (CPU time, storage, etc.) only up to the amount that is necessary at a certain point in time. Enterprise architecture management (EAM) needs to include the resource used in the cloud (be it private, public or a community cloud) to prevent the IT landscape from spontaneous growth. Measures on how to govern the usage of cloud services should (or need to be) implemented. Today, we’d like to show you how.

Get Architecture Information from AWS

Cloud services like Microsoft Azure, OpenStack or Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer APIs by which many different cloud resources can be created and managed.

We had a closer look at AWS. Its API allows control of instances (virtual servers), virtual machine images, volumes, hosts or network infrastructures, etc. For our first implementation, we concentrated on the instances, to be exact, on the AWS Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) instances. These are the resource most likely used by our customers – i.e. moving applications from an on-premise server to instances in the cloud.

We created a command line tool that runs regularly to request the instance information from the cloud provider and download it in a standardized format.

Integrate with Enterprise Architecture Management

Based on that an automated import job is started to draw the information in Alfabet. Alfabet is a powerful EAM tool that we use frequently in customer EAM projects. Alfabet provides an object type called “device” that represents a server where an application can be deployed on. We used this object type to describe the AWS instances in the realm of Alfabet:

eam-02-instance-description

Imported AWS EC2 instance

The import job also connects the imported instances to the existing IT landscape:

  • Instances are connected to the location where they are running (i.e. “eu-central-1” for the AWS data center in Frankfurt, Germany).
  • Users are assigned to the instances to manage them.
  • A workflow is run to ask responsible users what applications are running on the instances. This is necessary to link instances and applications, and thus make clear how instances are used for.

The steps above provide transparency about the cloud IT landscape. They are the preliminary work for the “actual” use cases:

  • One could review all running applications whether they can be deployed on a cloud instance or not. This would enhance IT standardization as cloud services are built on standardized hardware and software platforms.
  • One could import and collect cost information per instance and use this for reporting and budgeting purposes.

Presentation at EAMKON 2017

We will talk about the integration of the Alfabet EAM tool with AWS at the EAMKON 2017 conference in Stuttgart, 30th May 2017. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Would you like to know more…? If you’re interested in the big picture, refer to the first episode of our digitalization blogs, for enterprise architecture management see this list of posts.

Interested? Please, contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, visit our website.

The Roadmap to Digitalization – Episode 5: Idea Workshops as Means of Innovation and Participation

Digital transformation or digitalization is widely discussed today. Digitalization offers an abundance of products based on new technologies and technological platforms that possess the capability to reshape business processes, organizational structure and ways of working. It holds the power to reshape complete business models or even overall market situations.

A few months back we already talked about a four-step approach to digitalization in which one steps comprises an analysis phase where workshops are used to collect ideas and rethink business models. Today, we would like to elaborate on this step.

Innovation Phase with Idea Workshops

To find out what you can do in a particular field of digitalization in an organization – say mobility or big data analytics – you have to look two ways: There are the technological and market developments you need to consider. They offer new ways of doing work or new ways of work and business at all. And there are the people in the departments of the organization who know most of the daily processes, customers and applications.

We design or idea workshops to incorporate both sources of information:

  1. Introduction: Workshop participants get an introduction to the workshop topics and objectives. The customer project leader is invited to says something about how the workshop fits into the digitalization efforts of hers/his organization.
  2. Impulses: We offer information related to the workshop topics in one or more keynotes. This could encompass a general introduction to digitalization (followed by a few lead questions), an overview of a specific digital topic (i.e. what is big data all about) or the presentation of new features of a specific software. Sometimes impulses are also given by customer subject matter experts or the project leader.
  3. Idea collection and discussion: The workshop participants are given time to think about ideas. Ideas are written on cards and collected on a pin board. Each person pinning a card to the pin board is asked to present her/his idea. If desired, ideas are collectively prioritized.

We have already performed several such workshops for the last year and a half and always ended up with a surprisingly high number of proposals. Most of the proposals were quite straight forward offering ideas for quick win solutions making existing processes better. Some of the proposals were quite unorthodox – but we considered them valid nonetheless, because in today’s business world it’s the unorthodox business idea that wins the day.

Momentum for Change

Digitalization efforts – like all change efforts in an organization – should include and rely upon all members of an organization. They will be the ones to put the changes in strategies, services and processes into action.

We see these workshop as a means of participation and use them explicitly to include the people in the transformation process: They are allowed to think about their work, put it in different perspectives with the impulses given and make useful suggestions.

The customer’s organization management is called to follow up on the idea workshops with a transparent process about how and why the collected ideas are handled further – which of them are prioritized, which are realized in (pilot) projects and finally introduced to a department or the whole organization. In the workshops, we always experienced people willing to contribute and cooperate. This momentum can be made a strong support for changes driven by digitalization.

Interested? If you are interested in digitalization and enterprise architecture management, please, have a look at the other episodes in our blog and contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, also visit our website.

The Roadmap to Digitalization – Episode 4: Research Project «Digital Corporate Roadmapping»

Digital transformation or digitalization is widely discussed today. Digitalization offers an abundance of products based on new technologies and technological platforms that possess the capability to reshape business processes, organizational structures and ways of working. This, thus, holds the power to reshape complete business models or even overall market situations.

Numerous magazine and research articles, books and conferences on digitalization cannot disguise the fact (they rather underline) that digitalization still is a novel concept. Decision-makers struggle with the question what this concept means for their department, product or business and which measures need to be taken.

We as a consultancy company are called upon to put a great deal into researching digitalization. We already wrote about findings from a study in our recent episode. Today, we would like to continue introducing you to our research activities.

Research project «Digital Corporate Roadmapping»

For almost all sectors in business opportunities for changeover and redesign are offered by digitalization (e.g. data storage and processing technologies for big data analytics, web-based application platforms for the realization of elaborate cloud strategies, sensors, processing and analytics for predictive maintenance, methodologies for agile [project] management).

But how can organizations put these opportunities into practice? How does an organization start adequately into this comprehensive subject? Which areas of the organization should the CIO put focus on in concrete proposals?

In our research project «Digital Corporate Roadmapping» we would like to identify these areas of concern where companies see the greatest need for action. From this we would like to develop an approach for the coordination and control of digitalization activities in companies, a “digital roadmap”.

We will use the result from the research project to improve and amend our roadmapping approach we presented in our first digitalization blog episode. The approach is primarily intended for CIOs. It is intended to help them to develop concrete options for the digitization of their organization. It will enable them to support the business in the identification of new business models.

As a „digital roadmap“ is only reliable if it comprises practical insights of those involved in digitalization, we will conduct expert interviews – e.g. with CIOs, enterprise architects, demand managers, business developers – with organizations from various sectors (automotive, energy, pharmaceuticals, etc.) within our study. Participants will benefit in two ways:

  • They will receive the complete results of the research project exclusively in written form. This will give them an insight into the developments on this current topic in general and in their respective business sector.
  • We will provide them with the results in a digitalization workshop in detail and discuss with them the implications for their organization.

Works on the study have already started and interviews will begin shortly. Evaluation and publication of the results is expected to happen in March or April 2017. We hope to share some of the results with you in the blog in early summer.

Interested? If you are interested in digitalization and Enterprise Architecture Management or in participating in our research project, please, contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, also visit our website.

The Road to Digitalization – Episode 3: Digital Practice

Digital transformation or digitalization is a widely (and wildly) discussed topic these days. Digitalization does not only offer an abundance of opportunities to reshape processes with new technology. It rather promises to change your company completely based on (data-driven) business models.

While we wrote about the general approach to digitalization and the Smart Scan for application architecture evaluation in the first two episodes, we would like to share some insights from practice with you today.

Market Study on Digitalization

In the above episodes we have already emphasized the importance of business strategy for each digitalization effort. Digitalization used solely as a means of introducing some arbitrary new technology to an organization grossly misinterprets the idea of the digital transformation. Digitalization will only have room for development when it is used to rethink and then reshape one’s business strategy and business model.

In order to get some ideas and directions on how to shape a business model in particular we conducted a study into the ways companies are addressing digitalization these days.

The study was realised by a team of students of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hanover (Germany). They investigated 18 German and international companies from various industrial sectors (automotive, engineering, retail). The investigation was based on publicly available material about the companies; with one company an interview was conducted.

Study Results (excerpt)

All companies show that simply selling the product that has been produced for years does not work any more. They both create new products (13 out of 18) and enhance existing products (5 out of 18).

New products are often software services, designed as a platform and offered in the cloud. These efforts direct to the transparency of data:

  • Data from the original products (i.e. from a farmer’s harvester) are gathered, collected in the cloud and made available to the customer (i.e. the farmer) for better planning of work (i.e. the deployment of harvesters or grubbers or the analysis of work based on KPIs).
  • This is supplemented by adding more data sources to the cloud platform (i.e. from seed or fertilizer manufacturers).

Having established a platform like this, enhancements are possible in order to build an eco system of products and services around the original product: One engineering company from the sample usually sells sensors and the like, amongst others sensors for cars and car parks that are used by its customers to build parking management solutions. Data from the sensors are pushed to the company’s own cloud platform where it also offers an app one can use to retrieve the sensor data (e.g. to find a vacant lot).

It seems as if all of the examined companies are still struggling with digitalization, looking for the right initiative to realize and the right overall strategic way to go. In connection with that it is apparent that there is a lot of work to be done “on the inside”: speaking of business processes and data management. Customers will notice quickly if a new app is only some “digital front” or truly provides added value to them.

 

But apart from all digitalization efforts and business model discussions: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017!

Would you like to know more…? If you’re interested in the big picture, refer to the first episode of our digitalization blogs, for a quick-start check out the second episode. In the next episode we plan to give you an introduction to the innovation phase of our Digital Roadmap approach.

Interested? Please, contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, visit our website.

The Roadmap to Digitalization – Episode 2: Smart Scan for Digitalization

Digital transformation or digitalization is a widely (and wildly) discussed topic these days. Digitalization does not only offer an abundance of opportunities to reshape processes with new technology. It rather promises to change your company completely based on (data-driven) business models.

In our first episode on digitalization we proposed a general process for the creation of the Digital Roadmap. Today we would like to go deeper: How do I quickly analyze my existing IT landscape? How do I identify main strategic directions for my applications? To answer these questions, we propose a “Smart Scan for Digitalization”:

Smart Scan for Digitalization

We often ask our potential customers one question: Do you know you IT landscape, do you have transparency about its components and applications – and have you assessed your applications in terms of business criticality, strategy fit, cloud readiness, etc.? Without a positive answer no digitalization efforts are advised. Only knowledge about the as-is IT landscape allows to derive meaningful strategic options for applications to be incorporated in the Digital Roadmap.

“Smart Scan for Digitalization” is a means to get the above question answered. It comprises four steps:

  1. Capture business capabilities: First, a capability model of your business is created (with the aid of established industry-specific reference models).
  2. Capture application portfolio: The most important and critical of your applications are collected (using standardized Excel sheets or web-based surveys).
  3. Link business capabilities with applications: Linking both information shows which applications support which business capabilities or – put the other way round – which business capabilities depend on which applications to be performed (see an example from the Alfabet Enterprise Architecture Management tool below).digitalization-02-business-support-map
  4. Analyze and evaluate gathered data: Using matrix and graphical report capabilities different strategic options for the applications are identified – it may e.g. be useful to rethink and improve business processes (and their IT support) for core competencies rather than for commodities which in turn could be standardized and/or moved into the cloud.

The results of all steps are collected in an Enterprise Architecture Management tool, e.g. Alfabet or leanIX. This means all information about the IT landscape is stored in one place (single point of truth about the architecture) and is saved in a structured way using a meta model (consistent data).

“Smart Scan for Digitalization” is intended for CIOs to prepare for talks with the business side, especially when it comes to consequences to be drawn from digitalization and recommendations for the business.

Would you like to know more…? If you’re interested in the big picture, refer to the first episode of our digitalization blogs. There will be more episodes in the future. Next time, we’ll present the findings from an investigation we undertook with a school of applied sciences into the ways companies are addressing digitalization these days.

Interested? Please, contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, visit our website.

The Roadmap to Digitalization

Digital transformation or digitalization is a widely (and wildly) discussed topic these days. Digitalization does not only offer an abundance of opportunities to reshape processes with new technology. It rather promises to change your company completely based on (data-driven) business models.

But: How are you going to tackle that abundance of opportunities? How do you define your new business models in an orderly fashion? Do you know how your current enterprise architecture supports your business model? And what needs to be done with your enterprise architecture in order to facilitate new digital business models?

These are the questions we would like to discuss in this and some upcoming articles. Today, we start with “the Digital Roadmap”.

The Digital Roadmap

Digitalization involves the danger to start with some quick initiatives (e.g. develop some “fancy” business apps) without taking a look at the big picture: Digitalization is always about business models and company strategy!

In ordert to address that, we use a four-step approach and a joint text document called “the Digital Roadmap”:

  1. Kick-off: Scope the project with the CIO and define first strategic directions
  2. Analysis phase: Evaluate the company’s situation (enterprise architecture, market situation, business processes etc.)
  3. Innovation phase: Collect ideas and develop business models in idea workshops and prepare project proposals for process improvements
  4. Governance: Establish the digital roadmapping process in the company

All activities from the four steps are recorded in “the Digital Roadmap”. All meetings, workshops etc. are collected in a timeline diagram with their (expected) outcome and associated realization projects (see the example below):digitalization-01-roadmap-template

“The Digital Roadmap” allows you to keep track of your “digital” activities, unite ideas from all corners of your company in business models and plan and control projects emanating from these business models.

Would you like to know more…? In the following article we would like to present a methodology for a quick evaluation of your company’s enterprise architecture. Hope, you stay interested and follow the discussion: What are the topics you discuss concerning digital transformation and digitization? Which question do you have when it comes to Enterprise Architecture Management and digitalization? Looking forward to reading your comments!

Interested? Please, contact us: sales(at)cti-consulting.de. For further information, please, visit our website.